Orr: Surprises of spring
Yes, there is snow in the forecast for this week. And we act shocked there is still a bit of winter left in spring. But every year it happens. Right after the weight of winter has left the mountains and a series of warm days have melted the ice piles in the yard and spring flowers have started to emerge. Like a heartache you thought you had worked past, winter hits you again, with a certain kind of sadness and frustration, and sends you down a melancholy road less traveled.
It is weather and we know it comes and goes and we welcome the moisture and in the fall when such storms are announced we are buoyant at the promise of snow. But six months later we are exhausted by the coats and boots and paths buried. We itch to be back digging around in the dirt in some primordial way.
Early in the week, when I arrived home and it was still daylight, I took a slow lap around the yard. The man who helps me with chores had been by sometime and had raked up the detritus of winter. Emerging were green leaves on the blackberry bush and the chives in the herb garden. Some bulbs I had planted last fall, whose name I don’t remember, had sweet pink flowers popping up by the sundial out back. And to my great dismay the tunnels in the yard were becoming visible. The voles have been busy already, burrowing in pathways around the porches, front and back.
On that night, I had also arrived home and found a 20-pound bag of birdseed on my porch. I still have no idea who the gift-giver was, but I no longer spend hours trying to decipher such mysteries. Our neighborhood has unknown acts of kindness happen often and we have become, not used to them of course, but receptive, perhaps. Which seems to allow such serendipity to continue.
Last night, when I arrived at my driveway, I slowed down when something caught my eye. It appeared to be a baby deer, curled up on a tiny wire loveseat, under some aspen trees. We are used to wildlife in our yards here and I didn’t want to disturb it. But then it occurred to me that perhaps a deer shouldn’t be curled up on a loveseat. It seemed, I don’t know, unnatural. So I turned off the engine and tiptoed closer to get a better look. And the sweet-faced, tiny deer seemed frozen in time and place.
I should insert here for years my closest friends have called me "Mrs. Magoo." My eyesight is notoriously flawed. I once mistook a young moose for a really ugly horse. Stuff like that.
So when I came closer to the deer I noticed something else odd about its lifeless body. It had fully developed antlers. And it was not moving, not a bit spooked by my approach. And then, when I was practically on top of the bench, I realized the baby deer was really a deer statue someone had placed there. A doll-sized daddy deer most likely embodied in plaster. And I had a good laugh at myself. It wasn’t until I gathered some birdseed to fill the feeder there in the aspen trees that I noticed the miniature mama deer and baby laying on the grass. They too, were entirely too small to be scale except in some forest in a Disney film. I have no idea when they were "planted" in the yard. For now I think I will leave them where they were placed but perhaps they will need to move through the neighborhood as the season progresses.
They might move to the circle in the cul de sac where grass and trees surround the fire pit and tall-backed wooden chairs sit out year-round to catch the warmth of the sun on a suspended afternoon or the glow of the embers from a bonfire, without vanities. We take turns with the circle — well, to be my honest, my other neighbors do. They mow and water and arrange the stacks of wood. I add character whenever possible. And it takes different forms. As the old broad, they reward me with immeasurable tolerance.
On my final lap last night around the familiar trees and rock croppings and emergence of yard art, one more bright something caught my eye. Out front where the catmint is starting to green up and the tight bulbed tulips, planted by my children when they were children and not the parents they are now, are stretching tall. There were taller stalks with hints of color popping out from their cupped shape. Yellow daffodils. YELLOW daffodils!
I have a long recorded aversion to the color yellow — in print, in clothing, in paint on a house. My friends know this. One thinks it is irrational and has tried for years to have me see the beauty in yellow. I have steadfastly refused. Don’t think I don’t know your careful handiwork. Your planting something so subversive months ago only to spring upon me now, when removing any living thing with shades of green, seems a sin.
You have won this round … for the moment. Once fully in bloom I will cut the flowers and distribute them. Away from my home. And I will plot an act/event you will not see coming. Like a spring storm after days of warmth. Like this Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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